Brand marketing for charities

27th February 2024

Branding is often associated with big commercial enterprises. NikeGoogleAmazonCoca-Cola, are all instantly recognisable around the world – why? Because they’ve got good branding.

A strong brand identity helps to build trust and credibility through consistency and identifiability. That’s why it’s just as important for not-for-profits and charities.

What’s the benefit of brand marketing for charities?

A strong brand says, ‘we know who we are and what we’re doing.’ And this is as critical for building partnerships and raising funds as it is for boosting sales. That’s because investors and donors aren’t just looking for a cause to support, they’re looking for an organisation they can rely on. And good branding conveys the confidence and credibility they’re looking for.

It also manifests a sense of permanence. Good branding can make a charity or not-for-profit feel less like an organisation and more like an established institution. When it comes to attracting funding – this is crucial. Investors want to know that their resources are going towards building something long-lasting – a legacy for themselves and the organisations they support.

The same goes for potential partners and collaborators. They want to be sure they’re putting their faith in the right organisation. A strong brand can help bolster your reputation.

Finally, brand marketing does a lot of the work for you. Through consistent messaging and a discernible visual identity, you can build familiarity and trust with every ad, every post, every email, every piece of content. This means your marketing strategy can be proactive as opposed to reactive. Which means less time and money poured into short-term gains, and more resources spent on the cause you’re fighting for.‍

What do we love about brand marketing for charities?

Diving in values first

A brand should never be pulled out of thin air. No matter the sector, a brand is a representation of a company’s mission, purpose, values and vision. When it comes to branding for charities and not-for-profits though, it’s especially important to put values front and centre.

Nowadays, lots of businesses are taking a values-first approach to their marketing. It’s a trend that rose around the wave of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Every business, big and small, wants to be seen as driven by their purpose.

Charities and not-for-profits are built around purpose – so this part is easy. It’s setting them apart from one another that becomes the challenge.

Stretching our storytelling skills

Storytelling is an integral part of brand marketing. And it’s something our head of video and motion graphics, Tim Price, loves most about working with charities and not-for-profits. Why?

“When it comes to stories, charities are probably wealthier than any other industry. Everything they do is about improving a journey. But, it’s imperative to remember who the hero is (hint, it’s not the charity). As is often the case in marketing, your client isn’t Luke Skywalker, they’re Obi Wan.”

That’s right. Just like the customer is always right, the beneficiary is always the hero of the story. We kept this in mind when we put together this video for OTR – a mental health social movement by and for young people living in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.

Watch the video in the article here.

Making it human

Brands, like people, have distinct personalities. Characteristics that help make them relatable as well as unique. And a critical part of identifying these key traits is working closely and collaboratively with our clients.

This is how we approached the rebrand for Housing Matters, who came to us feeling a disconnect between their origins as CHAS (Catholic Housing Aid Society) were and the modern and dynamic organisation they’d become.

According to the copywriter on the case, Evelyn Chapman, collaboration was key.

“We were lucky enough to have regular face-to-face meetings with the Housing Matters team and getting to know them personally actually played a big part in crafting their brand identity. Each of them communicated with energy and passion. And though they’re warm and reassuring, you could tell they’re also tenacious – they’re real fighters. And we wanted their brand to reflect that.”

We took a similar approach when working with Runnymede, the UK’s leading race equality think tank. By working closely with the Runnymede team to refresh their brand and bring it up to date, we were able to refresh their colour palette to reflects Runnymede’s bold ambitions.

Getting creative

As 2020 was such an unusual and difficult year for everyone, rather than produce our usual Christmas video full of jolly japes, we decided instead to donate our services and resources to a local charity – Caring in Bristol.

They wanted to create something that celebrated Bristol culture – something edgy and full of life to reflect their brand identity and motivate people to donate in the run up to Christmas.

For this reason, we didn’t want to go down the typical charity ‘pulling at your heartstrings’ route. Instead, we went full force with a script and art direction that entertained (with plenty of nods to Bristol and all its wonderful quirks!), whilst delivering the cold hard stats about people experiencing homelessness.

Watch the video in the blog here.

With this video, and the promotion around it, we helped raise over £20,000 in under 2 weeks in the lead up to Christmas. The video also accounted for over 60% of the charity’s engagement for the whole month of December.

What should organisations expect from their branding?

A branding project doesn’t always mean an entirely new identity. Sometimes it’s all about a simple refresh or incorporating more consistency across your messaging. But when we take on a branding project, we ensure we are providing not just the building blocks (like a logo, and new colour palette) but the blueprint, the tools, and the training to boot.

A good example of this is the branding work we did with Effat; Saudi Arabia’s first independent university for women.

Our Senior Designer, Katie Elvins said:

“Key considerations were to create a modern, clean and fresh look for Effat. We wanted to create a brand that was fun and engaging for students – but flexible enough to be adapted for parents, sponsors etc.”

In the end, we provided a comprehensive brand book detailing all aspects of their brand including messaging, logo usage, typography, photography style and a refined colour palette which has been given a clear structure with a core palette, college colours, tertiary palette and special colours. Katie went on to say:

“Then, once the brand was finalised we travelled to Saudi Arabia, and I ran a 2-day workshop, presenting the guidelines to the in-house design team and showing them how we could create consistent, exciting work with their new brand moving forward.”

That’s all to say – your branding should be more than a marketing exercise. It should be a collaborative journey for all involved. And it should leave you with a manifestation of your organisation that is timeless, emotive and strong.

Need help building your brand?

Whether you need advice or support with positioning, visual identity, a digital refresh, or all of the above, we’re here to help. Get in touch and book a free consultation today.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +44 (0)117 923 2282


About Proctor + Stevenson

Game-changing strategy, creative and technology that means more impact for your marketing. And more power to your business.

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